When I gave my talk at the Microsoft Office System Developer Conference, I was surprised how few folks had heard about the Visio Viewer. Visio has shipped a free viewer for the last two releases of the product. You can download a Visio Viewer for Visio 2003 and a Vsio Viewer for Visio 2002. The Visio viewers are even localized into the same languages as the Visio product (such as Japanese, Dutch, Chinese, French, etc.). You can use the Visio 2003 Viewer for Visio files created in the Visio 5, 2000, 2002, and 2003 products using IE 5.0 and later browsers. The Visio 2002 Viewer works with Visio 5, 2000, and 2002 but won’t view Visio 2003 files.
The Visio Viewers are meant to be end user applications and do not have a published API for extension.
You can’t “do” anything other than view a Visio file using the Viewer, even if the Visio client application is also installed on the computer. This is a different model than the Office XP Web Components, which operate as a viewer when Office is not installed and have edit capabilities when Office is installed. Starting with Visio 2003, Visio offers a read-only Viewer for viewing Visio files and a Visio drawing control installed as part of the Visio application for full edit capabilities. Both are ActiveX controls, but the Viewer is free and downloadable from the Web. The Visio drawing control comes with the Visio application.
The Visio Viewers are only available on the Web for download (not shipped in the Office or Visio box). The Visio 2003 Viewer can also be deployed across a corporation.